Research, Teaching and Counselling


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On Research

After failing to secure full funding for the 2019/2020 academic year I am going to focus on next years applications. I am going to secure supervisors at three universities but only apply for the MS Society with LJMU. For the PRF I’ll try and apply with Manchester assuming I can secure a supervisor there and then try and apply for the universities studentships as well. I’ve only applied for LJMU this year because of crossed wires regarding other funding, so it’s a bit of a false start but I am positive I’ll get to researching in the future, just not the near future.

On Teaching

My application for my teaching qualification is done and ready for submission next week, so I’ll be trying to get qualified as a psychology teacher during the 2019/2020 academic year. It’ll give me great experience, a way to earn money and a chance to add different skills. If I do a PhD in the future then I plan of working part time as a teacher during that (as a supply teacher most likely). It’ll also give me what I need to apply for Educational and Child Psychology at Manchester, that would be something I’d do for the 2021/2022 academic year, assuming I don’t get PhD funding for research.

On Counselling

Finally, I’m still doing volunteering work for the MS Society and with my position as a trainee teacher I’ll be able to deliver more presentations (probably during assemblies) for the MS Trust as well. I want to ask the MS Society about them putting me through counselling training too, but I won’t ask about that until I’ve worked as a Support Volunteer for about a year. It could be a way to get the CBT training I’ve always wanted, but we shall see. Either way it would be to benefit people with MS.


The Joy of Tabletop


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Recently, Simon and I finished binging Critical Role Campaign 1 (Vox Machina). I am most definitely a fully fledged “Critter” now and absolutely love all the characters these guys created and play week to week. What I also really appreciate is seeing how another Dungeon Master does things, especially since I am a rooky (been DMing for a year now). I see a lot of things I already do that Matt Mercer does, as well as adopting some of his things – the homebrew rule for using a potion as a bonus action for instance!

Even though I went on a short hiatus from my homebrew game last month I’ve still been working on it with my co-DM and my players, we are having one shots and 1×1’s during the “downtown” from the regular weekly session (where I have 6 players!). I love building this world with them and testing them and surprising them, I just really needed to be a player for a couple of months and focus on righting to holes in my homebrew and working with the players to give them what they want and need – being as fair and creative as possible on both sides.

I’ve been thinking about making content for DMS Guild as well, doing Eriad Campaigns with unique monsters and 5e classes… Got to sort out my PhD first, of course! *bites nails*

New Beginnings


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Recently I became an aunt for the first time, my little sister giving birth to Isabella (Izzy to me). She is adorable and I already want to spoil her way too much!

I also recently found out that it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever have children of my own. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. I’m not ovulating and by the time I lose enough weight to see if I can ovulate and conceive or even have IVF I’ll be too old. So… no biological children for me.

I’ve decided to focus on the following:

  • PhD
  • Driving License
  • Getting a Dog
  • Being an awesome aunty

Eventually we’ll look at adoption, probably once IVF is ruled out (maybe before depending on finances).

All in all I’m feeling a little numb, not sure how to move forward so taking a break this week and trying to get my applications for the PhD done before the end of January…

NaNo, No Voice & Nuptials!


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It’s that time of year again! I am already 32,500 words in and it’s only day 12! I set myself a goal to be finished by the 18th, since my November is super busy. I’m combining this writing effort with my PhD work in the afternoon so by the end of the month I’ll be ready for my interviews and whatnot. It’s all very exciting!

Also at the end of November is my little sister’s baby shower. I was struggling to find her a present but I think I might have stumbled across something that will fit as either a baby shower pressie or for Chrimbo. I can’t believe I am gonna be a bonefide aunt in nearly a month! Christmas baby, woot!

On the subject of health I’ve been in a crazy amount of pain (need to chase up the neurologist for my pain clinic referral) and I’ve had laryngitis. The latter meant that tabletop had to be cancelled for this week since no voice for the DM means no session! I am doing Out of the Abyss tonight though, since I am a player I can be quieter – plus my voice is nearly back so yay!

Oh, my NaNo novel is for my eyes only, I’m using it to decide what I wanna write for Patreon and what sort of content I want in my fantasy novels. I’ve gotten a better perspective on smut this past year and I feel really confident about weaving adult material into my fantasy stuff, so another positive.

Finally, I am now officially Mrs Woods after marrying Simon on Halloween! Check us out!

Two More Years


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I find it quite astounding that I have 9 siblings and between us we have 3 children, only two having actually had those children. Given the fact my brother is an idiot and I can’t be sure he is even the father of his two I can only be certain that one of us have had a child. Even then it’s my youngest sibling and she is 30 weeks pregnant.

I am 38 now and I have, according to the nurse I saw yesterday, 2 more years of fertility help left on the NHS. Just two years! Fortunately I have a little more time on top of that for IVF since I won’t need to use my own eggs for that, but even then I have to bring my hefty BMI of 53 down to 30 to qualify for it. The key to that is bariatric surgery and I don’t qualify for that until the new year now.

So I have two years to lower my weight a little and hopefully conceive “naturally”, though I figure I’ll still need help with my ovulation. I am lucky in that bleed every month, but I have low hormones when it comes to releasing eggs, something I know can be improved with weight loss. It’s just weight loss takes time, and time is something I don’t have. Most of my 30’s was “wasted” by being too ill to move and too poor to afford healthy food.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, not really. Mostly I am self-deprecating because I am starting to believe it’s not meant to be. I know I do still have time, technically, but as each year passes and with each doctor telling me to lose weight I get more and more disheartened. I see plenty of people more obese than I having kids, some older than me, and part of me thinks it’s nature’s way of telling me this is not for me.

Nevertheless I shall try. I have always been a trier. Every single exam I ever took I assumed I was going to fail and academically I have a 100% pass rate (I am, of course, not including my two failed practical tests for driving!). I’ll try everything, including losing weight (crossing my fingers for bariatric surgery next year) and then just see what the Fates grant me. In the meantime I have a niece to look forward to, I have my phd to complete, a wedding to have and two cats to dote upon.

Last birthday as a “single” woman


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As I write the title of this blog I cannot help but roll my eyes a little at the term “single” as well as get a little annoyed that it’s even relevant anymore. What is more relevant than it should be is being a single woman.

Last week I read that single women pay, on average, almost £800 a year in car insurance, yet a single male only pays around £400. The same punishments apply for loans, mortgages, even healthcare. It’ll only get worse with the UK exiting the EU, maternity rights are already being affected and we’ve not even officially left yet.

I want to marry Simon, I am looking forward to the day, the simple ceremony and lunch with friends and family. What I resent is that my life will be better off simply for having that piece of paper. I’ll be seen as Mrs Woods before I am seen as Claire and that bugs me more than I wish it could.

I’m 38 today and am having a rant on the internet about equal rights – I consider myself lucky.

The Price of Ignorance


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Ever since I was a young girl I’ve been exposed to political and philosophical debate, and I was taught to look at all sides and have an informed and intelligent opinion. My parents were not rich, my father came from a poor background in fact and my mother was lower middle class. They were both politically active in the 60’s and they passed this activism on to me at least. The truth is, is’t not hard to be involved, or to find out what’s going on locally or even nationally (if you are British and have access to the internet you have no excuses).

However, somehow two years ago a slight majority in this stupidly rich country voted to leave the EU. How did this happen? Well, not only am I likely in the minority when it comes to upbringing on the subject, but most people of voting age in this country are willfully and dangerously ignorant. Even when they do vote they often do not know what they are actually voting for.

Case in point. Facebook. The litany of faux and stupid political rhetoric on that social media site is toxic and does more harm than good. Fake news abounds and people very likely made up their minds about Leave because of what they saw and read in their Facebook feeds! So either they didn’t bother to vote or they voted to Leave.

Ergo, you get posts like this:


There is no way to get the horse back into the stall, it’s bolted already and we are heading for more than another recession – we are facing isolation from the world market on several levels and many companies will leave these shores meaning people will lose their jobs. The NHS is already buckling under the pressure, and the government is using this as an excuse to privatise it. It’s a mess and there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that this mess will be cleaned up in the lifetime of those born next century.

Too fatalistic? Too dramatic? *shrugs* I voted to Remain and I volunteer and I do research to better the lives of sick people, my conscience is utterly clear.

*drops mic*

Employ us -and- pay us equally


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One of the most iconic brands in the UK and worldwide and definitely our best broadcaster is shamefully leading the way when it comes to gender-equality – and not in a good way. This is hardly news, but I still feel aggrieved and angry on behalf of female broadcasters when I see this:

BBC likes paying men

For those not sure about the gender of Nicky Campbell, he is an old white dude. In fact, these are all middle aged to old WHITE DUDES.

It makes me wonder why I buy a TV license, we only started getting one again before the world cup and since then I’ve mostly watched Escape to the country, Versailles and Poldark. More white dudes in lead roles. HOWEVER, the new Doctor is a lady, and that starts soon as well as the BBC making Good Omens and and His Dark Materials (which has the heroine and main character of Lyra, a teenage girl).

I just really want to see a woman take Chris Evans place and for her to earn as much as him, maybe even more. We all know it’s not going to happen though, since the listeners will follow him to Virgin and the new host will not be paid as much as a result.

Independent Woman


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Even growing up in a religious household surrounded by brothers and sexism I was taught by my mother how to be independent. Not just how to fend for myself, but how to think for myself and act for myself. It was not just about survival for my mother, it was about living the best life possible.

On the 13th August 1997 I lost my mother to renal cancer. She had been terminal for a year. I was about to turn 17 and had my whole life in front of me but it felt like that life was now over. Grief took a hold of me in ways no one in my life could ever imagine, there are things I’ve not even told my best friends or Simon. It was a dark, dark place, not least because I’d gone from being raised to be independent to having my whole life tethered to a broken home.

Don’t misunderstand me when I say I felt trapped. It was not the fault of the innocent children, or even entirely the fault of my father. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just was. I’d lost the greatest and most positive influence in my life and I knew I’d miss her forever.

It’s 21 years later and every day I think about her. Genuinely so, for she was such a huge influence there is always something I relate to her. I had not been awake more than a few minutes this morning when I’d thought about something she had taught me.

My youngest sister turned 23 last month and she is expecting her first child, a daughter, around Christmas. She even has the same cravings mum used to have when pregnant, pickled onions (specifically Monster Munch crisps!), and I know each time my sister looks at her daughter she’ll think about mum. It’s times like these, experiences like these, that I miss her the most. I wish she was here with us, experiencing the highs and lows of our lives. I wish I could have her advice now, it’s been so very long since I have had the voice of a matriarch talking at me. I miss it. I miss her.

I turn 38 in a couple of months and for the first time since getting sick I’ve experienced more of that independence she taught me. I have my power wheelchair now, I can “walk” away when I want, go at the speed and in the direction I want. I can do so much more for longer and go further – it’s hard to describe just what that means to me.

I think she would be proud of me. Not just my academic achievements, but of the person I’ve become as well. I am more patient and quiet, more selfless and forward thinking, more positive and happy than I thought I would be at this point in my life. It seems that my challenges in life have strengthened me, which is what she wanted of me.

The night before she passed I was alone with her for many hours, and though she was in and out of lucidity (the cancer had reached her brain by this point and she essentially had dementia) she managed to give me one last bit of advice, and these are words I’ve seared onto my heart and mind.

“Challenges either break you or make you stronger. Be a fighter and be stronger.”

I was strong for you, mum, and strong for my sisters (and brothers), but now I am strong for me too and my life is much better for it.

I miss you and love you forever,

Your dutiful, independent daughter,


Wedding Day [2]